Transplant Profile: Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock

Nothing makes the South shine like seeing it through the eyes of a Southerner-by-choice. While Transplant Profiles usually feature born-and-raised Southerners living outside the region, this week’s contributor is a Midwesterner who moved South six years ago. Funny thing about people from the Midwest – they’re hard to impress. If anyone rivals Southerners for having pride of place, it’s Midwesterners. “New” Southerner and author of The Catholic Wife blog, Katie Sciba, shares her experience in adopting “y’all” into her vocabulary as well as a few other worthwhile adaptations she’s made since putting down roots in Louisiana.
@TheCatholicWife and Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock today on the blog! | StayingSouthern.net

(Photo credit: Chip Methvin)

Name: Katie Sciba

Born in: Newport News, VA but grown in Omaha, NE (military brat)

Occupation: Columnist and at-home mom

I currently live in: Shreveport, LA

I transplanted because: Visiting future in-laws with my husband Easter of 2008, he was introduced to the principal at the local Catholic high school. By the end of the conversation, he had a job offer. Two weeks after our wedding in June, we filled a Uhaul and drove down to start a brand new life.

Similarities I found between the South and other places I lived: I’ve described both Midwesterners and Southerners as the nicest people I’ve ever met. Both will bend over backwards to make sure you’re taken care of in times of need and the abundance of care and concern is humbling. It’s been a real blessing to have experienced in both places.

The most drastic difference between the South and other places: The PACE, good grief, the PACE!! In the Midwest, there’s not much time to chat in passing because the work ethic dictates that play comes later. Every man is on his mission and people go go go til quittin’ time. Down here, life is slower, which drove me bananas at first. I remember pushing a cart (what they’d call a buggy here) at Target, getting stuck behind a pair of sauntering Southern belles in a narrow aisle. Cruising at a pace slightly faster than a turtle, I couldn’t get over how much they weren’t in a rush. It wasn’t until I learned to slow down myself that the culture shock wore off.

A Southern habit or value I adopted: It’s almost embarrassing, but I say y’all now. My whole life I made fun of it, and now I’ve proudly added to my vernacular.  The Midwestern counterpart “you guys,” still slips in here and there, but “y’all” feels much more natural. I’m also a huge fan of Sweet Tea and so enchanted by the flavor of Southern life.

How living in the South has changed me: It’s expanded my horizons – I just tore apart and ate crawfish for the first time a couple weekends ago (after living here for nearly 6 years). It’s been fantastic experiencing things outside of what I knew during my upbringing. And I really have learned to slow down, generally speaking, to enjoy life instead of rushing through it like I did before.

Morsel of wisdom to other “new” Southerners: Give your A/C a tune up for the 6-month long summer. I’ll never forget how shockingly hot it was when we moved down here, and how long it lingered into what was “supposed” to be autumn. Other than that? Just dive in. It might not make sense at first, but every nuance of the South has some delightful reason behind it that’s worth savoring.

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Transplant Profile: Anthony Williams in Los Angeles

Transplant Profile: Anthony Williams in L.A. | StayingSouthern.netName: Anthony Williams

Born in: Tyler, Texas

Occupation: Writer, assistant, cashier, background extra, etc.

I currently live in: Los Angeles, California, in the Pico-Union neighborhood.

When I go back to the South, I always: Fail to do everything I want to do. But Taco Cabana is usually my first fast-food stop, whether I’ve driven back and see the first one in El Paso, or fly in and dive into some nachos right after leaving the airport.

Something I miss: I’ve been car-free for a year now, but more than sometimes missing having that kind of transportation, I just miss driving 100 miles or more randomly just to see family or friends. I miss high school football games with huge crowds and intense atmospheres. I miss taking my little cousins off to the city to visit a new mall or new burger joint.  I’ve got people spread all over Texas, and even dotted across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and those little road trips were often a good little escape that I appreciate so much more now.

Similarities I find between the South and Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Lakers are almost as revered, worshiped and talked about as the Dallas Cowboys. Almost.

Something I do to keep my Southern identity: I still say, “y’all,” and started saying, “Bless your heart,” here while (working) in retail – to keep my sanity. And, there’s numerous little things I only catch here and there that I do because I’m Southern or just because I grew up used to it – saving and reusing bacon grease, and cooking huge pots of food even if it’ll only be for myself. Weirdly enough, I say “ma’am” and “sir” more here than I did growing up.

Being Southern has helped me: Stand out. Even though I lean more towards being an introvert, I can be a little extra when meeting and hosting people. I help lead a Bible study group with another Southern guy from Georgia. When it’s at my house, I always end up cooking or offering something, despite protests that it’s unnecessary.

Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: I’m starting to write creatively, and something that hit me while learning the formulas for scripts (yep, there are formulas) was the quote, “It’s the same, but different.” That’s true in writing and in life, and whenever I’ve traveled to or lived somewhere new.

There are basic structure to cities, communities and routines everywhere. While it may be fun and easier to sit and figure out what’s your “new this” or “new that” (“Pasadena’s my new Fort Worth,” “Ralphs is just Kroger,” “the 405 is my new I-635”), it’s better to accept things for what they are so you can sincerely savor it all.

Oh, and whenever you go back home, relax. Thankfully, I have family that can remind me of that when I’m trying to run around to see everyone and do everything. But you should be able to just chill all day at an aunt’s house as if you’re eight years old again.

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Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, California

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter

Stinson’s novel, False River, is available on Amazon.


Name:
Stinson Carter

Born in: Shreveport, Louisiana

Occupation: Screenwriter, Journalist, and Novelist

I currently live in: Los Angeles, CA

When I go back, I always: Eat Southern Maid Donuts and a Herby-K shrimp buster. And I appreciate the time I get to spend with elderly family members. I listen to their stories like it’s the last time they’ll ever be told.

I miss: Family. And being in a place where I have a past. In Los Angeles I feel anonymous most of the time, but in Shreveport I feel like I’m part of a lineage, and there’s a deep comfort wrapped up in that.

Similarities I find between the South and where I live now: There is a kinship between ex-pat Southerners that I enjoy whenever I meet them in California. I’m working on a script with the producer of The Help right now, who is from Jackson, Mississippi. I think the fact that our hometowns are only a couple hundred miles apart definitely helped me get the job.

A Southern value I keep: I value knowing how to cook, and how to be a good host. A modest spread by Southern standards goes a long way in Southern California. Also, being accountable for what you say you’re going to do. In Hollywood you don’t make real plans. For example, you might say to a friend, “Let’s get lunch this week,” and they’ll say, “Yeah, that’d be great!” (Everything is great in Los Angeles.) But of course you don’t actually get lunch. What you’re really doing is just both agreeing that the idea of lunch sounds nice at that moment. There’s an old joke in Hollywood that goes like this:

“Did you hear that so-and-so died?”
“No!”
“Yep”
“That’s a shame. We’ve been meaning to get lunch.”

Being Southern has helped me: Keep a fundamental baseline for my values, and preserve my integrity in a city and within an industry that doesn’t exactly reward it.

Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: Don’t forget who you are. If you have a strong work ethic and treat people well, then you will make the kind of friends who will root for your success.

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, CaliforniaRead Stinson Carter’s novel, False River, available for download on Amazon now.

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Transplant Profile: Kera in Illinois

 

Nothing makes you appreciate being a Southerner like living outside the South. Spend any significant length of time away from home and you’ll find yourself attempting to master every classic Southern recipe and being friendlier than ever. And, you’ll learn to appreciate the simple things when you do get back home – like egrets and Raising Canes. Just ask Kera.

StayingSouthern.net | Transplant Profile: Kera shares her take on being Southern and what she does to feel at home wherever she is.Name: Kera Simon Brossette (pronounced “See-maw” “Bro-say” in Louisiana and no where else)

Born: Kaplan, Louisiana

Occupation: Communication Specialist for the county health department

I currently live in: Bloomington, Illinois

When I go back to the South: I look out of the window a lot more than when I grew up there. I find myself getting excited to see an egret. Those creatures I grew up dodging as a teenager driving on my way from school are somewhat weird and foreign to me now, and I hate that. These little things that I took for granted when I was young are so special to me now, more than they’ve ever been. Spanish moss hanging from the trees, sunlight gleaming off the crawfish ponds and rice fields, the smell of crawfish boiling, pulling up at a gas station and ordering boudin– it’s the little things.

When I go back, I always: Stop at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers first (and will schedule driving stops around the nearest Raising Cane’s).

I miss: Meeting a person for the first time, and then hugging them when you leave!

Being Southern has helped me: Connect with people on a human level. I’m an open book, and I show my faults mostly through humor, because that’s the only way I know how. I’m also honest with people and show sincerity — that’s how I was raised to find a friend in everyone.

Morsel of wisdom to other Transplant Southerners: Learn how to cook the meals you grew up loving! There will be some trials, some errors, and some big fat failures. But, when you finally get it right, it’s all so worth it! Plus, it will help you keep your sanity when your Southern friends post all of their meal pictures on social media.

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Read last week’s Transplant Profile here

Transplant Profile – Lauren in Washington, D.C.

Family comes first for most Southerners. Whether it’s pitching in around the house or enjoying a meal and a glass of sweet tea together, time spent with family becomes invaluable when it doesn’t happen every day. That’s just one of many things Lauren has learned as a Southerner living in Washington D.C.

It's all about spending time with family when Lauren goes home to Louisiana.

It’s all about spending time with family when Lauren goes home to Louisiana.

Born: Hampton, Virginia, but due to my Dad’s military career we lived all over!

Occupation: Public Relations Executive

I currently live in: Washington, D.C.

When I go back, I visit: Louisiana is home because that is where the majority of my extended family lives and where I spent my college years. When I go back to visit, it’s all about seeing family and spending time with them since I don’t get to see them as often as I would like. I like taking my younger cousins to the movies, doing my Maw Maw’s grocery shopping for her, watching the news with my Pops every night, or driving out to the casino with my aunts and uncles for a little boot scootin’.

When I go back, I always:
Over-eat. It’s true – women of the South just know how to cook really, really well. I probably over-drink, too; Maw Maw makes the best sweet tea and my uncles love a good totty.

I miss: So much about the South! The generosity and kindness of strangers, the slow-paced lifestyle, the Southern men and their jacked up trucks! I was home over Thanksgiving last year and I forgot how nice it was to see a sky full of stars. You don’t see that very often with all the city lights reflecting off their buildings.

Being Southern has helped me: To appreciate finding joy in the little things. When someone holds the door open for me at the local Starbucks (even if it was an accident), I appreciate that so much more than the next person who never grew up with that as the norm.

 Morsel of wisdom to other Southerners living outside the South: People outside of the South and the military don’t like to be referred to as “ma’am” and “sir” but that doesn’t mean you should forget your manners. Make it a point to get back to the South at least once a year. Even if you don’t have family to visit, just do it.  It will be refreshing, rejuvenating and will give you the time you need to just relax.

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